Mike Jenkins has been a punching bag at times during his career. He's been lambasted at least twice for appearing to quit on plays, letting running backs zip past him into the end zone.
After a Pro Bowl year in 2009, he was picked on repeatedly by opposing offenses in 2010, especially after he earned a reputation for committing pass interference penalties, and had one of the highest completion percentages against him of any defensive back in the league. The former first round pick was criticized plenty for what was a down season.
He's played much better this year, even with the sticks and stones of an NFL season taking their toll. Dating back to training camp, when he suffered a neck stinger, he's had roughly half a dozen different injuries this year, including a knee problem, a hamstring injury and two seperate instances of banging up his shoulder.
He missed four games games in the middle of the season with the hamstring pull, but has played well when he's been in the lineup, a testament to his toughness, which has been challenged at times.
"I think you grow up some," Jenkins said of his pain threshold. "With some injuries you may want to just sit a game out, but as you grow and progress, you know how much it means to the team. You just want to get out there, and just by being out there it shows a lot to the team and the guys that you're playing with, that you're going to go to war with them no matter what."
In the meantime, the pass interference fouls have become a non-issue. Jenkins hasn't been flagged a single time this year, for any penalty.
"I changed my technique up a little bit," Jenkins said. "I think last year I was trying something new. I just kind of went back to what I know, to the basics. It's working pretty good for me this year.
"Going into the season last year, I had a great season (in 2009), I was still on that - I was on my high horse, and look what happened. So I've learned my lesson in a good way. Once you have a good game you just let it go."